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All about Manual Scavenging Law in India By: Gurmeet Singh Jaggi

March 14, 2019:

The Author, Gurmeet Singh Jaggi, is a 4th Year Law Student at Delhi Metropolitan Education, Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University.

Manual scavenging refers to practice of manually cleaning, carrying, handling in any manner, human excretory product from dry latrines and sewers. It typically involves using the foremost basic of tools like buckets, brooms and baskets.

Manual Scavenging in India
Manual Scavenging in India

Manual scavenging is connected to India’s class structure (dalits) wherever questionable lower castes were expected to perform this job. Manual Scavengers are amongst the poorest and most underprivileged communities in India. In 1997, India prohibited the utilization of individuals as manual scavengers.

In 2013, new legislation within the variety of Manual Scavengers Act was passed that seeks to bolster this ban by prohibiting manual scavenging all together forms and rehabilitation of manual scavengers to be known through a compulsory survey.

Despite progress, manual scavenging persists in India. In step with the India’s 2011 census, there were 2.6 million dry latrines within the country. Their area unit 13,14,652 bathrooms wherever human body waste is flushed in open drains and 7,94,390 dry latrines wherever the human excretory product is clean manually. 73% of those area unit is of the rural area and rest 27% is of the urban area.

According to the House Listing and Housing Census 2011, states like Assam, Jammu & Kashmir, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal accounts for 72% of the unhygienic latrines in India.

The Government of India has adopted a two-pronged strategies, first being the elimination of unhygienic latrines through demolition and conversion into hygienic latrines, and developing a comprehensive rehabilitation package for manual scavengers through a survey.

However, manual scavenging for several might have terminated as a variety of employment, the stigma and discrimination related to it lingers on, creating in troublesome for former or liberated manual scavengers to secure alternate livelihoods and raising the worry that folks may all over again come back to manual scavenging within the absence of different opportunities to support their families.

Properly characteristic manual scavengers remains a key challenge. A comprehensive rehabilitation package has recently been placed along with that of featured livelihoods and ability developments, access to education for kids of former manual scavengers and alternate livelihood.


The practice of manual scavenging is really prohibited in India. Numerous laws have outlaw the practice for last 60 years.

1. The Protection of Civil Rights Act (1955) created it associate offense to compel any individual to practice manual scavenging.

2. The Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act (1993) disciplined the utilization of manual scavengers or the development of dry latrines with imprisonment for up to at least 1 year and/ or a fine of Rs. 2000/.

3. The Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act (2013) outdated the 1993 Act and outlaws all sorts of manual scavenging (beyond simply dry latrines), prescribing penalties for people who uphold the practice and protective people who have interaction in it.
As per Section 2 (1) (g), Manual Scavenger means a person engaged or employed, at the commencement of this Act or anytime thereafter, by an individual or a local authority or a local authority or an agency or a contractor, for manually cleaning, carrying deposit of, or otherwise handling in any manner, human excreta from the insanity latrines is dispose of, or on a railway track or in such other space or premises, as Central Government or State Government may notify, before the excreta fully decomposed in such manner as it is also prescribed and therefore the expression “ Manual Scavenging” shall be construed consequently.

4. The 2013 Rehabilitation Act additionally commits to proving alternate livelihoods and alternative help (Such as money payments, scholarships for kids, housing and alternative legal and programmatic assistance) to assist rehabilitate former manual scavengers. However, it is up to the State and Native Governments to enforce these rules- an equivalent establishments that have did not enforce the previous laws to outlaw manual scavenging.


India has allocated resources to modernize sanitation. National Sanitation Scheme aimed at modernizing human waste management which includes the Integrated Development of Small and Medium Scale (1969), Sulabh Shauchalaya (Simple Latrines/ Toilets) Scheme (1974), the Integrated Low Cost Sanitation Scheme (1981), the Low Cost Sanitation for Liberation of Manual Scavengers Scheme (1989) and the Total Sanitation Campaign (1999) which was further renamed as Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan (Clean India Campaign).

These sanitation schemes haven’t, however, succeeded in remodelling India’s waste matter disposal system consisting with the most recent information from World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nation International Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF), India has over 792 million individuals while not access to improved sanitation nearly a 3rd of the calculable 2.5 billion individuals while not sanitation globally.
India conjointly leads as a global home to over 0.5 of all the individuals within the world who follows open elimination, associates in nursing, calculable 597 million people. Despite creating smart strides in increasing the amount of individuals with improved access to water, India has lagged behind in meeting its Millennium Development Goal related to sanitation. Parasitic diseases and infections like Tuberculosis (T.B.) that square measure coupled to poor sanitation and significantly open elimination, moreover, contribute to aerobatics and cognitive deficits amongst youngsters and increase rates of kid morality.



1955- Protection of Civil Rights Act (1955), which was enacted to abolish untouchability and social disabilities arising out of untouchability as against the Scheduled Castes.

1977- Protection of Civil Rights Act (1955), revised, making untouchability practices cognizable and non-compoundable offenses and increasing punishment.

1981- Integrated low cost sanitation scheme authorizes funds to poor urban households to convert dry latrines/ toilets to wash flush latrines/ toilets.

1989- Sub-Committee of the task force constituted by the Planning Commission estimates there are 72,050 million dry latrines/ toilets in India.
National Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Finance and Development Corporation established to provide financial assistance to all scheduled castes and scheduled tribes, including safai karmacharis. Low Cost Sanitation for Liberation of Manual Scavengers scheme formulated to convert dry latrines/ toilets and construct new sanitary latrines/ toilets.

Parliament passes the Schedule Castes and Schedule Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
1992- National Scheme of liberation of scavengers and their dependants launched. Constitution’s 74th Amendments Act makes sanitation the responsibility of Urban Local Bodies.

1993- Parliament enacts The Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act.

1994- Parliament passes the National Commission for Safai Karamcharis Act. National Commission for Safai Karamcharis constituted under the National Commission for Safai Karamcharis Act (1993), to monitor and recommend specific programs.

1996- National Human Rights Commission sends letters to various authorities on elimination of Manual Scavenging.

1997- National Safai Karamcharis Finance and Development Corporation incorporated by Central Government as an Apex institution for the socioeconomic uplift of safai karamcharis and their dependents and to extend concessions and financial assistance to beneficiaries for income generation.
National Human Rights Commission writes to Chief Minister to emphasize the need to adopt and enforce the Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines Prohibition Act, 1993.

1999- National Human Rights Commission sets up a group comprised of representatives from concerned ministers and Planning Commission to make recommendations to end manual scavenging.

2000- National Commission for Safai Karamcharis submits its first report to Parliament noting that the 1993 Act is not being implemented effectively, estimates that the number of manual scavengers is 577,228 and reports that people are employed to do manual scavenging by the military engineering works, the army, public sector and Indian railways.

2001- UN World Conference against Racism held in Durban, South Africa, Caste is described as descent based discrimination.

2002- Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment estimates there are 78,700 million people engaged in manual scavenging.
At 27th session of the United Nation Commission on Human Rights and calls upon India to press all states to implement the Employment of Manual Scavengers all Constitution of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act (1993), and to prosecute all officials responsible for perpetuation of the practice
On Independence Day, August 15, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee announced 15 point program to speed up the liberation and rehabilitation of manual scavengers.

2003- Writ Petition filed by Safai Karamcharis Andolan and six other civil society organizations requests that the Supreme Court take effective steps to eliminate manual scavenging and the use of dry latrines/ toilets.
Report submitted by the Controller and Auditor General, evaluating the National Scheme for Liberation and Rehabilitation of Scavengers, concludes that scheme “has filed to achieve its objectives even after 10 years of its implementation.”
Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment estimates that there are 67.6 million people engaged as manual scavengers.

2004- The Planning Commission develops a national action plan for total eradication of manual scavenging by 2007.

2005- National Commission for Safai Karamcharis estimates that there are about 67.6 million manual scavengers, 5.4 million dry latrines/ toilets in urban areas, and 2.4 million dry latrines in rural areas.

2006- National Human Rights Commission tells representatives of State Governments to end manual scavenging within six months.

2007- Self-Employment Scheme for Rehabilitation of Manual Scavengers initiated to provide training, loans and subsidies for alternate occupations. International Labour Organization’s 96th Session releases “Equality at Work” report, which mentions manual scavenging.

National Human Rights Commission calls on all states that have not yet adopted Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act, 1993, to do so at the earliest time possible, calls for co-ordination between various governmental and nongovernmental agencies and an exchange of good practices between States and makes specific recommendations to State and Central Governments on identification, liberation and rehabilitation of manual scavengers.
According to survey reports received for the States, the Self Employment Scheme for Manual Scavengers estimates that the total number of manual scavengers and their dependents is 7,70,338. From this number 4,27,870 people received assistance under the National Scheme for Liberation and Rehabilitation of Manual Scavengers yet 3,42,468 people to be rehabilitated.

2008- Integrated Low Cost Sanitation Scheme reviewed and new guidelines put in place following implementation difficulties

2010- Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment reports that by the end of 2009, a total of 69,137 manual scavengers were provided loans to for alternate occupations under the Self Employment Scheme.
Scheme of Rehabilitation of Manual Scavengers, 13,700 intended beneficiaries were yet to be covered and efforts being made to cover remaining beneficiaries by 2010.
All concerned State Governments confirm that all eligible and willing manual scavengers have been rehabilitated in alternative occupations under the Scheme for Rehabilitation of Manual Scavengers.
National Advisory Council resolution expresses “deep anguish at the official failure to eradicate manual scavenging, the most degrading surviving practice of untouchability in the country.”
Based on surveys, Garima Abhiyan and Maila Mukti Gatbhandan estimate that the number of people engaged in manual scavenging across the country is 3,50,000. This does not include safai karamcharis employed by the Indian Railways, Panchayat’s and Municipal Corporations and made to manually clean excrement.

2011- National Human Rights Commission releases report, “Know Your Rights: Human Rights and Manual Scavenging.”

Consultation Meeting on Eradication of Manual Scavenging and Rehabilitation of Manual Scavengers is organized by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment. The Ministry establishes task force for a new national level survey to identify manual scavengers.
Former Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh reiterates government’s determination to completely eradicate manual scavenging in a very short time.

2012- House Listing and Housing Census 2011 released by Registrar General shows there are still 2.6 million insanitary latrines in the country that are cleaned manually. The Registrar General determines there are three kinds of insanity latrines- those cleaned by people, those connected to open drains and dry latrines. Accordingly, the Ministry of Social Justice recommends stronger central legislation rather than amendment to the 1993 Act since it only covers dry latrines.
Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Bill (2012), introduced in Lok Sabha and referred to a Parliamentary Committee for review.
United Nations Human Right Council (UNHRC) on water and sanitation, Catarina-de-Albuquerque and the rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, Gulnana Shahinan, call upon states to address caste-based discrimination. European Parliament passes a resolution criticizing caste-based discrimination in India.

2013- United Nations High Commission for Human Rights Navi Pillay appeals to the Indian government to pass a new legislation to end manual scavenging.
Parliament passes the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers Act, 2013.

2014- Supreme Court decision in Safai Karamchari Andolan vs. Union of India directs that all people working as manual scavengers be rehabilitated “base on the principles of justice and transformation.”

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